We have reached an agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to address the concerns we all feel as we do our work in the era of COVID-19.
Based on the feedback we heard from you, your Local Unit Officers proposed an MOU with the goals of improving safety and providing much needed relief for members who are struggling with reduced hours. While we are disappointed that the hospital did not agree to some of our proposals, we believe this MOU will make life a little better at SCH.
We had hoped the hospital would agree to our proposal to place nurses experiencing reduced hours on paid administrative leave to protect nurses from financial distress. Unfortunately, the hospital would not agree to this proposal. Instead, we have agreed to allow nurses to volunteer to go on standby unemployment and/or SharedWork in order to allow people to access the additional unemployment benefits that are currently available. Please see the FAQs about standby unemployment and SharedWork below.
The MOU also creates the following safety benefits:
*COVID positive RNs – If you are diagnosed with COVID – 19 and it is traced back to a patient, the hospital will provide paid administrative leave.
*Pre – existing health conditions – protections for nurses with pre-existing conditions
*Notification of exposure to a COVID positive patient.
*Testing availability for nurses
*Ability to cash out annual leave
*Access to campus parking at reduced rates
Standby Unemployment/SharedWork FAQs
What is Standby Unemployment or SharedWork? These are programs offered through the Washington Employment Security Department (ESD) for workers experiencing job loss or reduction of hours. Both programs existed before the pandemic but both programs have been augmented with federal dollars to respond to the current economic crisis.
Are these programs different than a “furlough.” Yes. The term “furlough” does not have a legal meaning. Standby unemployment and SharedWork are specific programs with defined parameters.
How does Standby Unemployment work? A worker who has experienced a temporary layoff from a job may be eligible for standby unemployment. A worker on standby unemployment does not have to look for new employment in order to remain eligible for benefits. However, the worker must remain available to go back to work when the employer calls. Under our MOU, the hospital will not cash out your annual leave hours and annual leave and sick pay will remain available upon return. Also, the hospital will keep you on its insurance plan and continue making contributions to your retirement account.
How does SharedWork work? Under SharedWork, a worker can reduce hours by as little as 10% and as much as 50%. A worker on SharedWork is eligible for a prorated portion of unemployment benefits. Under traditional unemployment, a nurse who experiences a reduction of hours may not qualify for benefits. Under our MOU, the hospital will continue your insurance and retirement plans. The hospital must apply to the ESD for admission to the SharedWork program. We are encouraging the hospital to move as quickly as possible to submit its application.
Can I be forced into either program? No. The MOU only allows for voluntary participation in either standby unemployment or SharedWork. It will be up to you to determine if either programs is right for you and your family.
Am I guaranteed to receive unemployment benefits under either program? No. Both programs are administered by the ESD and neither WSNA nor SCH can guarantee your eligibility for benefits. We can tell you that these programs are being widely used by workers in Washington including many nurses and health care workers. The ESD is working hard to get people qualified. While there have been some delays due to the high volume of use, we have not received reports of denials.
How do I apply for benefits? You will submit an application to the ESD at: https://secure.esd.wa.gov/home/.
What do I do if I would like to participate in the standby unemployment or shared leave program? Please contact your manager for details. At this time, the hospital is working on operationalizing the process, however, that work should be completed next week and your manager will have further details.
Where can I find a copy of the MOU? Click on the link below or find it in the documents section of this web page.